The White House – a beacon of white that summons its denizens towards the values of unity and trust. For some, it appears as an enigmatic structure shrouded in an opaque cloak of black. It is here that one pledges fealty and allegiance under the high-ceilinged arches of democratic authority.
As the year 2018 rolled around, I had the opportunity to set foot within these iconic premises, my experiences immortalized in the pages of my book. Five years hence, I plan to return, tracing the perimeter of this historic monument, exploring each contour and crevice that time has etched onto its venerable facade.
Photographs reveal the lesser-seen rear of the White House, emphasizing the surreal proximity between us and the seat of the world’s most powerful democracy. Feel at ease, sitting, snapping pictures, or even expressing dissent – a liberty not afforded when in proximity to the government’s heart in many global territories. Here, you are free to approach without fear, unlike elsewhere where even the act of capturing an image could lead to your downfall.
The main entrance, however, boasts an imposing security protocol, exemplifying the dichotomy of openness and fortification.
The White House: An Edifice of Elegance and Humility
In its architecture, the White House exudes a subtle simplicity, a stark contrast to the ostentatious palaces of rulers across the globe. The vision of James Hoban, influenced by the quaint villa, Leinster House in his Irish homeland, shaped this American icon.
Despite overseeing its construction, President George Washington never had the opportunity to call it his home. The first inhabitant was President John Adams in 1796, whose wife, Abigail, voiced her discomfort due to its incomplete state. President Thomas Jefferson, too, found it wanting when he moved in during 1801.
It was during President Roosevelt’s tenure that the building gained its official title, and work-life balance was instated by distinguishing his professional quarters from his personal space.
This symbol of the American presidency, a testament to the strength of the American spirit, might appear plain in design, but it embodies the ideals and honors the legacy of the founding fathers of the United States.
Before the cataclysmic events of September 11, the White House stood amongst the other homes in Washington, encouraging a sense of camaraderie and shared destiny. The vision was clear – the ruler of the country was to be one amongst its citizens, chosen by them, serving them, and leaving office by their will or the constitution’s mandate.
This idea resonated with Khedive Ismail, inspiring the construction of Abdeen Palace among the people, symbolizing the transference of European democracy to Egypt. Ironically, he failed to adopt the modesty of the White House, Downing Street, and the Elysee Palace, preferring instead to build a larger, more extravagant palace.
These are the echoes of my journey,